Social media is an important addition to both consumers and businesses alike. It acts as a great tool to reach new people, customers and lost friends. With the likes of Facebook and Twitter becoming iconic beacons in the social networking sphere it was no surprise that Google wanted in. This led to Google back in 2011 launching Google+ (although back then it was known as Google Circles) which strangely began with an invite system (sound familiar?). Since then the social platform has grown into a rather decent social network tool allowing users to share posts, reshare, +1 and follow and it provides a good stream of information from friends and strangers. However unlike the other big social networks available, one aspect of Google+ users did not seem to like was its compulsory sign-up. To use Facebook or Twitter you have to go to the site, click sign-up and actively join the network. In contrast, since January 2012 users who signed up to a Google account (Gmail for instance) were automatically signed-up to Google+. There was no obvious way around this and many saw this as Google trying to force users to use the social platform and generate an artificially high ‘user-base’.
However, more recently we have seen steps by Google to try and distance themselves from compulsory forcing users to sign up to Google+. Only last week it was reported Hangouts (Google’s Skype-like service) no longer needed users to sign up for Google+ to use the service. Now, it seems Google have abandoned the automatic sign-up completely. From now on when you sign up to any of Google’s services (Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube etc) you won’t be automatically prompted to sign-up to Google+. The sign-up page will still appear as usual although alongside the ‘Create your profile’ link will be a ‘No thanks’ link which allows you to continue to use the service you signed up for, but opt out of Google+. Many are seeing this (and the other segregation of services like Hangouts) as further proof of the slow demise of Google+. Rumors of the death of Google’s social network began in April when Vic Gundotra left the company.
Since then the rumors have intensified with each passing Google move. However in reality, the change to both hangouts and the mandatory Google+ sign-up are probably not evidence of the end of the social network but instead more an example of Google’s intention for growth. It is far more likely Google have made these moves to actually open the platforms up and allow users who simply don’t want Google+ to still use the additional Google services. It is understandable that originally Google might have forced users to sign-up for Google+ as a means to get users using the platform. However, now there is not really a need for Google to force users as the platform is somewhat established. Now Google probably wants users to try the newer services like Hangouts and separating the entities will allow for a much wider audience to use them. What do you think? Is this a good move by Google? Does this reinforce the Google+ death rumor or simply good for Google business?